New UMass President, Talking With Students On 1st Day, Proposes 3-Year Programs For Veterans

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The new president of the five-campus University of Massachusetts system is proposing three-year programs for veterans as one way of cutting tuition costs.

Marty Meehan took questions from selected students at UMass Boston Wednesday, his first day on the job.

The session was like the shooting of a campaign commercial. The 19 chosen students, the only ones present in a UMass Boston atrium, were placed in a circle to ask Meehan questions while a camera crew recorded the event.

Former congressman Marty Meehan sits with UMass Boston students on their campus to discuss his goals as the university system's new president. (Fred Thys/WBUR)
Marty Meehan sits with UMass Boston students Wednesday to discuss his goals as the university system's new president. (Fred Thys/WBUR)

One student asked Meehan how he would keep UMass accessible despite tuition increases. Meehan replied it's his job to obtain more state and federal money. He also proposed more three-year programs for veterans.

"If you have a student, for example, who just finished multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and maybe they're 26, 27, they might be more interested in a three-year degree program," Meehan said.

But Meehan said he would also like UMass to offer more co-op programs like those at Northeastern University, and he said those would not fit well into three years.

The student who asked the question about how Meehan would keep UMass financially accessible is Lucas Goren. The political science and English major at the UMass Boston honors college is from Los Angeles and runs a magazine on campus. He says Meehan did not answer his question. He is worried that as Meehan tries to improve the school's national rankings, UMass will turn increasingly to out-of-state students such as himself.

"If you look traditionally at what UMass has been about, it's been about catering to urban communities," Goren said after his exchange with Meehan. "When you start sourcing out of the state to meet those performance goals, in a way you're short-changing the communities that we were meant to serve, and so that's really troubling."

Meehan replied to reporters later that out-of-state students are key to keeping in-state tuition low.

"It is a fact that out-of-state students pay more than in-state students, so in essence many out-of-state students are subsidizing in-state students," Meehan said. "That financial model seems to work very well for the great public universities in the country, whether it's the University of Virginia, University of Vermont, the University of Michigan."

Meehan said he is looking forward to UMass Boston benefiting financially from the 2024 Olympics if they are held in Boston. The campus is the setting for the proposed athletes' village. He predicts athletes would arrive as much as a month before the games, and held out hope that UMass could charge rent for the use of its athletic facilities as athletes practice.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the last name of a UMass student who asked Marty Meehan a question. He is Lucas Goren, not Lucas Cohen. 

This article was originally published on July 01, 2015.


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Fred Thys Reporter
Fred Thys reported on politics and higher education for WBUR.



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